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Salary is Life

Dr. Abdul Qawi Hizam Al-Shamiri

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The armed conflict in Yemen has led to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in a country that is the poorest in the Arab region and perhaps in the world, in addition to the destruction and drape of infrastructure, displacement and vagrancy , the high cost of living and the collapse of the currency value.  Salary outage for Yemeni employee for fifty-four months is considered more painful and the most severe and deeper wounded .                     

      No one thought that the humanitarian situation in “Happy Yemen” would deteriorate to this extent, and that the employees’ salaries, which were the lowest in the world, would stop. Since September 2016 - the month in which the salaries began to be cut off - the employees’ suffering continues and their condition worsens day after day.    Although the effect of the interruption of salaries included all state employees, its deeper impact was on university academics and employees, and on educators, for the majority of whom the salary constitutes the only source of income.  After four years of legendary resilience in the face of the high cost of living, rising rents, increasing tuition fees, and soaring fuel, gas and medical prices, they ran out of money, possessions or jewelry.              

         Not only that, but the Ph.D certificate , after it was a source of pride for its owner and his family, has today become a curse and a calamity for its holders. On the one hand, the landlord - for example - refuses to rent his property if the tenant is an academic professor, and on the other hand, the academic title they hold has become handcuffed.  It prevents them from practicing any jobs or crafts that enable them to live in dignity.  Nevertheless - and for the sake of their survival and their dependents - some of them were forced to engage in jobs they were not accustomed to, others sold qat or worked on taxis or motorcycles or in bakeries or selling maize in front of wedding halls and parks, and some of them either moved and  returned to his village and regained the profession of his fathers and grandfathers in agriculture or imprisoned in his home due to a stroke or psychological depression, and a few of them were “lucky” and migrated abroad to begin the second stage of alienation.

Who would have thought that the holy month of Ramadan, which will come upon us in a few days, has become in the mind of the academic associated with a food basket whose price does not exceed 20,000 riyals from this merchant or that one?!  Someone will say, "There are still people working in the field."  Yes!  But they are in the last breath.  Believe me, they are dying.                   

      When we talk about the interruption of the salary, we are not only talking about the financial aspect, but rather what is more dangerous and beyond that;  Three years ago, in one of the meetings of the Higher Coordination Council of Governmental Universities Unions with the former Prime Minister of Yemen regarding the salaries of university employees, and I was among its members, a faculty member at a university had brought me a message to him saying, “Mr. Prime Minister, I have suspended the rope.”  A reference to the noose.  And just a few days ago, a university doctor wrote in one of the social media groups at his university a distress call, literally saying: "My brothers ! yesterday they kicked us out of the apartment, and I scattered on the street, and today my family and I are without lunch or dinner until now.. Starving.. Fear Allah..  Who help us ,  humiliates us ."  These two letters should not be read individually, and are not limited to university academics, intellectuals of the nation and the makers of its generations, but they summarize the tragic situation that hundreds of thousands of employees of the Republic of Yemen have reached;  They starve, suffer, and die silently, and they may cry out loud, but there is no answer.                    

         I remember that at the end of 2016, the Supreme Council of University Syndicates raised the slogan “Salary is life,” and this slogan had a deep connotation, as “life” did not mean only physical life, but also psychological, intellectual and cognitive life.  The opposite of life is death, not necessarily physical death, but psychological, intellectual and cognitive death, moral death, the death of dignity and pride.           

       Cutting the salary and using it as a political bargaining chip is contrary to divine laws and status laws , and a flagrant violation of human rights and dignity. Rather, it is the end of his life.                   

        What crime is committed against Yemeni employees in general, and against academics, university employees, and educators in particular, greater than this?!  It is a crime against the makers of Yemen's generations.  It is a crime committed against an entire generation.     

      You who have assumed responsibility for this bereaved people, or rather, you who claim that you have assumed responsibility for this overpowered people, we say to you:                    

"You are assassinating the present and the future. Cutting the salaries of employees - specifically for the educators and academics of universities - constitutes a major disaster, not only for the employee and his family, but for the entire community, because the members of these two segments are thinkers, teachers, educators and generation makers, and everyone should realize that " Hungry stomachs do not produce thought, and empty intestines do not create a generation and do not build a future ".

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